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The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  262 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews

A leading M.I.T. social scientist and consultant examines five professions - engineering, architecture, management, psychotherapy, and town planning - to show how professionals really go about solving problems. The best professionals, Donald Schön maintains, know more than they can put into words. To meet the challenges of their work, they rely less on formulas learned in

Paperback, 374 pages
Published May 1st 2006 by Ashgate Publishing (first published 1983)
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Jonathan Jeckell
This article was what prompted me to read this book:

You might get impatient with parts of it because you may have already seen some of the major revelations revealed in this book in later works based on these ideas. If I were to assign this as reading to someone, I would select key chapters, such as the whole first part, the chapter on scientific-based professions, and Part III/Chapter 10. I got a little bored with some of the vignettes he used, like the
May 20, 2008 Drick rated it liked it
I recently chose this book for a Leadership Practicum course I am teaching as it is considered a classic in describing how professionals think as opposed to technicians. The key for true professionals is that they bring their theories and experiences to bear on every situation in unique and creative ways. One can get the overall thesis of the book by reading the last chapter which lays his overall theory of reflection-in-action. The rest of the book contains illustrations of the thinking process ...more
I decided to read this book because it seems to occupy a central place in the canon of "design thinking" literature. The central idea of the book is that the conventional view of professional practice as the mere application of research is flawed; that in fact, practitioners actually conduct research themselves, in the form of on-the-spot, in situ experimentation.

While I enjoyed reading the book overall, I'm giving it only 3 stars because (confession) I really struggled to get through it. Object
Ashfaq Ayon
Mar 16, 2015 Ashfaq Ayon rated it liked it
Shelves: design
Well, this book was a very difficult read for me. But thinking about how Schon's thoughts were of such depth given he wrote this in 1956 i got to say he is amazing. If you are studying Design Theories you might want to read it. It is also included in different curricula, I guess.
Jan 22, 2008 Josh rated it it was ok
Recommended to Josh by: Trevor Gibbs
Shelves: professional
The author, an MIT social scientist, nicely points out the biggest challenge in applying professional expertise to a problem, is in properly framing the problem in the 1st place.

This activity of 'framing' is a primary task of 'real-world' managers and professionals, differentiating this group from the pure academes who teach the theories and tools of professional activity, using predefined problems and well-defined settings. In this sense, 'framing' is left as an 'art', poorly taught in formal s
Sep 13, 2008 Heather rated it really liked it
OK, I read this book for social work school, so it's not exactly the next volume in Harry Potter. If it were, however, the book would likely be called "Harry Potter: A Guide to Expert Wizardy in an age of Failed Experts." To give you a glimpse.

Basically, the book explores the idea of the failed professional in today's (or 1983's) age. No longer can we rely on experts to tell us everything - time and time again in recent history have the failed to tell us the truth. In the area of social work, pr

Excellent description of how professionals think and act in the moment. Quoting from Russell Ackoff, Schon notes that "managers do not solve problems: they manage messes" (p. 16).

Schon maintains this happens best through a process he describes as "reflection-in-action" which uses an interactive problem-setting and framing approach. How one frames and sets situations influences decision-making, interpersonal communication, and conflict resolution.

Best quote, "our bias toward thinkin
Edward O'Neill
Jun 27, 2011 Edward O'Neill rated it really liked it
Schon brilliantly outlines the grudge academics have against people who actually do things--notably plan and give services.

Schon has found ways to track the thought process that goes into things like helping a client, solving a complex design problem, and the like.

This book points the way for a more sophisticated approach to professional education--and higher education generally: an approach based on competence, problem-solving, and mastery.

A must-read for the serious practitioner of higher edu
Jeremy Yuille
Feb 15, 2012 Jeremy Yuille rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Adding to the other reviews, Schön builds a great lexicon of practice. To me, this is the contribution of this book. Concepts like repertoire, reflection-in-action, experienced felt path and the like are seminal and foundational for understanding the discourse around design and practice in professions
Sergej Middendorp
Classic in education, design and process. Now that I have also read Schön's displacement of concepts able to see how his thinking evolved to integrate the process of displacement in an inductive description of the improvisational process of designing solutions in professional contexts. A must read for designers.
Aug 06, 2012 Amanda rated it liked it
I like what Schon had to say about reflection and practice. The last half of the book is not entirely helpful because it's case studies in some professions (library not being one of them), but the theories in the first half are well worth reading.
Mar 29, 2008 Reuel rated it liked it
Published in 1983, this book still stands as a classic in how professionals think about their work and think-in-action on the job.
Jul 19, 2010 Marianne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The longer it's been since I read this, the more I appreciate it. Possibly the most helpful work-related book I've ever read, and I found it very pleasant to read on the sentence level as well.
Jun 01, 2015 Rania rated it liked it
A very difficult read for me and I struggled with it although it sheds light on important insights on the reflective practitioner and the importance of professionals.
Mar 03, 2007 jim rated it really liked it
Psychotherapists, scientists, town planners and managers examined epistemologically by author seeking to understand the role that reflection plays in developing professional competence.
Feb 02, 2011 Marianne rated it it was amazing
The longer it's been since I read this, the more I appreciate it. Possibly the most helpful work-related book I've ever read, and I found it very pleasant to read on the sentence level as well.
Nov 29, 2008 Ali rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Terrible, terrible, terrible. Its like reading a dissertation. Liked the general premise, but holy cow it is tedious to get through.
Johnny Go
Mar 15, 2016 Johnny Go rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A thought-provoking resource on how professionals should be educated. The challenge will be how to do this given the present structure of schooling
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